A top cleric yesterday urged Iranians to confront the “economic war” posed by Western sanctions and for authorities to cease internal bickering, days after protests erupted in Tehran over a collapse in Iran’s currency.
“The pressure today imposed on us by the world arrogance (the United States) is full-fledged economic war,” Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said at the weekly Muslim prayers in Tehran broadcast by state media. “This pressure will not last. Our people have been tested and they will not be worn down. Our people will ensure they (the enemies) are the ones worn down,” said the Shiite cleric, a ranking member of the Assembly of Experts that supervises the activities of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In his prayer speech, Khatami said that while “some of the pressure we see emanates from sanctions... mismanagement should not go unnoticed.”
He appealed for Iran’s government, judiciary and Parliament to unite, saying: “The only path to solve these problems is cooperation between officials and the people.”
The internal discord “only makes the enemies happy,” he said, referring to comments by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday, who predicted the unrest in Iran could spread to become “a Persian Spring” like the revolutions seen in several Arab countries since 2011.
Khatami added that “the people should know that life with dignity has costs and any people who wants to have a say in its fate has to pay these natural costs.”
The United States, which has said Tehran’s protests seemed spurred more by Iranian monetary policies than by sanctions, has deployed significant military hardware and troops to the Middle East, especially to the Gulf, in recent weeks.
The movements were mostly said to be for exercises, but they underscored Washington’s warning that military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities was an option, a threat made even more sharply by US ally Israel.
The head of the navy division of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards, Admiral Ali Fadavi, was quoted by Fars news agency as reiterating a vow by the Islamic republic to defeat any attack against it.
“If the enemy acts stupidly and starts another war in the Gulf, our response to the stupidity of the enemy and its allies will be so decisive that they will not have the chance to regret it,” he said.
“We do not want (to see) a flood of thousands of American soldiers going home from the Persian Gulf in coffins,” he was quoted as saying.